In Fereshteh’s beauty salon / سالن فرشتھ , three generations of women recount their acts of small resistance in Iran during 44 years of Islamic dictatorship. In the nail salon, their nails are treated. Through their stories and their nails, they tell of their resistance, strength, and determination. They do so with humor and lightness. In doing so, they show how an accumulation of small acts can greatly impact individual and collective freedom. 

The film is set in a nail salon: Fereshteh’s beauty salon/ سالن فرشتھ . In the film, Iranian women recount their acts of resistance for freedom in Iran during 45 years of Islamic dictatorship. Three generations of women are featured in the process, as we solely see their hands and the treatment of their nails. Each generation is presented by one or more hands. Through the hands, nails, and treatment, we express the identity of the women and depict their story. In this way, the viewer can get close to these women visually and sensitively, who, due to their safety and strict censorship rules, cannot be ‘just’ on screen. We follow their stories chronologically through time, we start with the oldest women and take the viewer along, through the increasingly younger women and girls. Similarly, we see the hands move from old to young, until we arrive at the resistance in the here and now. 

Through the stories and hands, we discover how small acts of resistance led to where we are today. That women stand on each other’s shoulders. We see how far the resistance goes back in time; and how earlier generations paved the way for the current generation. We also learn how resistance today starts at an early age. At the end of the film, we see older hands back together with younger hands and the women reflect on the now. How do they view the current protests? What have they and other women meant in it? What has changed about themselves, society, and the streets? Are they hopeful and what does that mean? How do they look to the future? Through this, we experience how current the struggle is and that in it, women of all generations stand shoulder to shoulder. 

The work in progress and research of the film was part of the exhibition Qoqnoos (the power of art & resistance by the woman of Iran) at De Melkweg in Amsterdam, March 8 – May 14 2023.

Fereshteh’s Beauty Salon was recently supported for development as part of Teledoc Campus.

Production details:
Written and directed by Davy Pieters
In co-production with NTR
Country: The Netherlands
Status: In development, expected in 2025
Running time: ’25 minutes

Short documentary